The Other “G”: Germs

“We all know that we need to keep ourselves — and our surroundings — clean and sanitary to prevent disease. But how much do you really know about germs? Read on for some of the biggest myths about germs.

1. You Can Catch a Disease from a Toilet Seat.

Will you get some sort of disease by sitting on a public toilet seat? Almost certainly not. This is the myth that just won’t die. There’s a small chance, to be sure, but it’s also possible to spontaneously combust. And the likelihood of either happening is so slim that it’s that it’s really not worth worrying about. Your chances are so low, in fact, that a toilet seat is about as germ-y, if not less, as a door handle! And those toilet seat covers? Well, they’re more of a psychological protection than a sanitary one.

2. The Sink is the Germ-iest Place in the Kitchen.

Nope! According to research by NSF International, the biggest germ culprits in your kitchen are refrigerator vegetable and meat compartments, blender caskets, can openers, and rubber spatulas.

3. Air Dryers in Bathrooms are Not Safe.

It is certainly possible that air dryers are less sanitary than paper towels, but by no means is the evidence conclusive in either direction. There is surprisingly little research into this issue, and a lot of the research that IS out there has been funded, or refuted, by these two competing industries.

Until there is a definitive body of research, your best defense is to wash your hands as thoroughly as possible — for at least 20 seconds — and make sure that your hands are completely dry when you leave the restroom.

4. Planes are Safe.

If you’ve ever seen a fellow passenger with a face mask on a plane, you’ve probably realized that airplanes aren’t exactly the safest place for people with compromised immune systems. Even though airplanes get cleaned regularly, they’re still bastions of germs and bacteria that can live for at least a week. The water on planes can be dangerous, too. in one study conducted by the United States Envrionmental Protection Agency, 15% of water on planes tested positive for coliform, which is used as an indicator for harmful bacteria.

5. A Dog’s Mouth Is Cleaner Than a Person’s Mouth.

Sorry, Fido, this just ain’t true. There may be a long-held belief that your beloved pooch has a cleaner mouth than you do, but, well, there’s a big factor that is often overlooked: the types of bacteria found in dogs’ mouthes are typically different than the types of bacteria found in humans’ mouths. It’s just not a fair comparison.

6. Sponges are Good for Cleaning Kitchens.

Is a sponge the best way to clean your kitchen counters? Nope! In fact, using a sponge won’t clean your counters. What it will do instead is push the germs and grime around.Sponges usually contain millions of bacteria, and that’s not something you want on your countertop! It’s better to use paper towels.

If you still insist on the sponge, make sure to clean it daily — a quick zap in the microwave will kill nearly all of the germs — and replace it frequently.

7. Antibacterial Soap is the Best Way to Protect from Germs.

Having clean hands is one of the simplest and best ways you can keep yourself and your loved ones healthy. But is antibacterial soap the way to go? According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, there’s no real benefit to antibacterial soaps in comparison to regular soaps. In fact, antibacterial soaps contain chemicals that haven’t been thoroughly tested. Even more data has suggested that the risks outweigh the benefits of antibacterial soap.

8. The 5 Second Rule is True.

Sorry, folks, this one has been thoroughly debunked. Study after study, both in research laboratories and on popular television shows, have proven that dangerous bacteria can stick to food dropped on the floor in a split second, not 5 seconds. If your food falls on the floor, consider it a lost cause.”

From “8 Biggest Myths About Germs” By Katie Waldeck

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